Donald Trump’s relentlessly illegal efforts to accuse his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden of nepotistic corruption due to his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China have brought the biggest threat to his presidency to date, but a new article in The Washington Post today points to an even greater instance of familial self-dealing in the president’s own family.
If you were expecting the report to detail yet another instance of unethical personal enrichment by Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner or by one of Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, you may be surprised to find a new player in the Trump family looting of the U.S. treasury.
This time it’s the awarding of a lucrative government contract to provide security for federal courthouses and cell blocks from the U.S. Marshals Service to a company partially owned by the president’s younger brother Robert Trump that has raised eyebrows and instigated complaints of potential interference in the bidding process by disappointed rival companies trying to secure the contract.
The $33 million contract was given to CertiPath, a Reston, Virginia-based company in which Robert Trump has an ownership interest through one of his own investment firms.
According to The Washington Post:
“After the contract was awarded, an anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general, alleging that CertiPath failed to disclose that ‘one of the President’s closest living relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction,’ according to a copy of the July 22 complaint letter obtained by The Washington Post.”
“’The circumstances of this contract award, and what appear to be CertiPath’s efforts to obscure Mr. Robert Trump’s financial interest in the company even as it trades on the Trump name, present the appearance of preferential treatment for those who are close to the President,’ said the complaint, which was sent by Venable, a Washington law firm, on behalf of the client.”
The Post’s attempts to contact Robert Trump through his company Trump Management for comment were not successful.
Jeff Nigriny, the president and founder of CertiPath— a firm dedicated to digital security and verifying online identities — issued a statement that said that Robert Trump “is one investor in an entity which holds a minority interest in Certipath” and that “he is exclusively a passive investor, has no management role whatsoever, is not an officer or director, and his name has never been used or mentioned by Certipath in any solicitation for a government contract, whether state or federal.”
He told The Post that he and his company were not previously aware that the Justice Department’s inspector general had received any complaints about the bidding process.
“Certipath has never used the Trump name in any way, and to do so would be completely inconsistent with our business practices and ethics,” Nigriny claimed.
NMR Consulting of Chantilly, Virginia, a second company involved in the bidding for the contract, also registered a protest over the awarding of the deal to CertiPath with the Government Accountability Office.
Drew Wade, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said that the second bid protest has led to a “stop-work order” on the contract until the matter can be investigated.
“There’s no money being spent with CertiPath until this issue is resolved,” Wade stated.
The U.S. Marshals Service was unaware of the allegations that a relative of the president has a financial stake in CertiPath and also knew nothing of the complaint to the inspector general, according to Wade.
While the president’s brother Robert has had a much lower profile than other members of the Trump family, he has been intimately involved in the family’s real estate business, having served as an executive vice president at the Trump Organization and working with his brother Donald on the company’s disastrous casino investments in Atlantic City.
He has been a reliable donor to Republican coffers over the years and a vocal supporter of his brother’s political activities.
“I support Donald one thousand percent,” he said to the New York Post in 2016.
Trump Management, where Robert Trump currently serves as president, is listed on the president’s financial disclosure form as being 25% controlled by Donald Trump through the revokable Trust he set up when he became president with the other 75% listed as being owned by “Trump Family Members.”
Robert Trump’s stake in CertiPath is through a separate company SHiRT LLC, an investment partnership that also includes CertiPath’s chief executive, Shawn R. Hughes. Since Robert’s brother took office CertiPath has een awarded at least $6 Million in government contracts according to The Washington Post.
The anonymous company that filed the complaint with the Justice Department says that the issues with awarding the contract to CertiPath go beyond mere suspicions of nepotism and conflict of interest and extend to basic capabilities to fulfill the requirements of the contract based on its expertise.
“CertiPath, which primarily provides information technology products related to digital identification, appears to lack the basic program management skills and experience required to provide the physical security” for the U.S. Marshals Service’s requirements, the complaint letter said.
While CertiPath denies this, the irony of the allegations — coming at a time when Donald Trump is so fervently accusing the Biden family of corruption based on nepotistic influence — is inescapable.
If the allegations against the president’s brother prove to be true, soon the Trump name will eclipse the Sopranos as the name that first jumps to mind when the words “crime family” are uttered.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Joshua Partlow at The Washington Post.